Obsidian Dial 1601 Rolex Datejust

This isn’t tropical sun damage and it’s not even patina. This is Obsidian, a naturally occurring glass which forms when volcanic lava cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. Some areas are of this volcanic dial are translucent, true glass. The areas here where you see deep gold on the dial are in fact the dial baseplate, where the slab is mounted, showing through. Obsidian dials are extremely uncommon, only a handful were sold in either Datejust or Day-Date. I think of it as a Tiger Eye dial on acid.

Rare Day-Date collecting, and by extension the super rare Datejusts, feels like it all got very serious in the last five years or so. This is really peak ‘stone’ (even though it’s not) dial era and obsidian is peak obscurity. This has seen obsidian become something of an ‘in the know’ darling. It only became known as a quantity once the Rolex dial code chart made its way out to the community, a relatively recent phenomenon. The very interesting thing about Obsidian in particular is that the patterns are perfectly unique and distinct to each watch. So, if you’re a bit of a nerd, you can very precisely trace the hands and ownership history of each watch backwards if you look hard enough. Not a difficult job when there are probably fewer than 10 documented online. But there are absolutely others not yet photographed.

A cursory Google will reveal 7 instances or so. One sold at Phillips in 2020, for 32K USD which has since disappeared. Sothebys & Christies haven’t seen one to my knowledge. The stone dial heads, or stoners as I like to call them, over at Amsterdam Vintage Watches sold a pair last year each for a considerable bit more than that. And then as per usual Johnson167 has one, previously at Grateful Time Co. This one surfaced last year at Antiquorum and now is offered by the good folks in Miami @menta. And finally, as per usual, John Goldberger trumps everyone with the only known Oman khanjar Obsidian dial 1601 in his collection, documented by Le Monde Edmond. They’re a fun case study on very limited Rolex markets, an undeniably beautiful dial and stochastic market. Something you’re unlikely to see, but should probably be aware of. Like most things here, really.

This 1601 is in a decent overall state, amazing on dial. The dial, which here is by far most important, is lovely. No cracks or hairline fractures which is the important point to note. Its case has definitely seen a polish, which is not ideal but nonetheless it’s not egregious. It comes on a strap but man it would look mega on a rivet Oyster or Jubilee. Quite the rare bird, fun to see it come up again and have the space to be able to cover it. It comes from a very well-regarded Miami retailer.